Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained.

Lao Tzu

Goodness in the virtuous does not require others to be good; it requires no conditions at all.

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July 3, 2021

The photo I chose for the virtue “goodness” in The Little Book of Virtues is a photo I took of my mother Ernestine when she was in hospice care at her home in Arizona. 

Mom was well aware that she was dying. She was getting a lot of supplemental oxygen at this time, but she made me take the tube out of her nose for the picture. Her attitude? The smile on her face says it all. The main hospice nurse Tracey told me “I’ve never seen anyone quite like your mom, and I’ve been doing this for a long time.” I quiz her once a week asking some baseline questions which she is to answer on a scale of one to ten. I ask her, “Ernie, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your depression?” “Zero” mom would invariably say. “How about your fear and anxiety?” “Zero” mom would say every time. And so it went, every time, every question that Tracey would ask.

Mom was simply not afraid of dying. She even told me “I know this is kind of selfish, but I am just so excited to move on; I can’t wait to see my mother and my sisters and all my friends who have gone before me.” Mom was a woman of great faith…and great goodness.

Mom just could not ever stop “mothering.” My brothers and I benefited greatly because of that, but mother was a mother to many besides us. Cousins, friends, peers…many found comfort, encouragement and advice from “mother” Ernestine. They found unconditional love and acceptance. They found goodness.